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Spiral Blue first place winner in Maxar Spatial Challenge

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Sydney, NSW - 10th December, 2020 - Maxar today announced Spiral Blue as a first place winner of the Maxar Spatial Challenge Urban Spaces category. For this competition, Spiral Blue developed Canopy Mapper, a prototype machine learning based service capable of generating masks of green tree canopy coverage in satellite images in urban areas.

The Maxar Spatial Challenge is a competition designed to encourage collaboration to find new sustainable solutions to address Australia’s biggest challenges. This challenge was hosted in partnership with Arlula, an online platform that provides users with simple and affordable access to remote sensing data, and Consilium Technology, a team offering professional consulting services and intelligent software solutions. 114 participants assembled on 44 teams leveraged Maxar’s high-resolution satellite imagery and platform, along with other information sources, to build solutions for two categories: urban spaces and regional spaces.

Canopy Mapper identifies if each pixel is part of a tree or not, producing a mask over the pixels it believes to be trees. The Canopy Mapper prototype currently achieves 75% average accuracy, and is able to produce tree canopy masks of entire cities in seconds. These masks will be available through an online web service and portable to the user's GIS platform of choice. This enables end users, such as local governments, to produce expert assessments of tree canopy coverage in a rapid and affordable manner, helping to democratise access to key information for city planning.

"The commercial potential of Canopy Mapper is incredibly exciting," Spiral Blue CEO Taofiq Huq said. "We have a clear pathway to improving accuracy and adding features such as tree health analysis, which will be needed both by city councils and forestry customers.

"I'm proud of the team for their herculean efforts in this competition, particularly our machine learning intern Timothy Guo. His work on Canopy Mapper was above and beyond all expectations."

This win will see Spiral Blue sharing in a prize pool valued at $30,000 AUD, including cash and research support from the Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre at the University of New England.

About Spiral Blue

Spiral Blue is a Sydney based space startup company focused on building the next generation of Earth observation services with artificial intelligence and Space Edge Computing. Founded in 2018, the company is on track for its first Space Edge Zero prototype to be launched to orbit in January 2021.

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